The Moto G6 Plus is the latest ‘mid-range’ phone from Motorola (Lenovo). By ‘mid-range’ I have to clarify that the G6 Plus is the top-end of the G6 range of phones which also includes the Moto G6 Play and Moto G6 which are both lower-end, but similar phones. The G6 Plus is definitely aiming at a more premium segment this time with the full screen display and sleek design.
Out of the G6 series, the Plus has the largest screen, at 5.9” and in the NZ market at least it has a second sim slot, for those who like to separate work and home accounts or just like to be across multiple providers.
My most recent phone was the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 SE, which was OK on the spec front with a Snapdragon 650 SoC but ran Xiaomi’s proprietary version of Android and was stuck on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For the most part, my frame of reference is my previous device, however my wife has had a Moto G5 Plus, and recently upgraded to the G5S Plus after breaking her screen, so I have quite a bit of experience with the precursors to the G6 Plus.
I received the Deep Indigo version with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. I am really digging the colour, although I would say it’s more of a blue than an indigo. With a glass back, the G6 Plus definitely has a premium look and feel. It doesn’t seem to pick up too many fingerprints either, as it has an oleophobic coating and I suspect something that also deflects water – as it seems to run right off when it gets splashed (I have a toddler who likes to ‘kick like a dolphin’ in the bath).
It is rated as splash resistant, but not waterproof. I haven’t smashed it (yet), but I suspect having a glass back is a risk area for those who are prone to dropping their phone, and yes it does make it a little slippery. Time to order a case off AliExpress? I think so.
Note that I did receive some cases from AliExpress before completing this review and now my phone is nice and safe with a tempered glass screen protector and a rugged armor case. Using a case does take away some of its charm however.
Who’s it for?
Anyone looking for a decent Android phone that doesn’t break the bank but has the look, feel and features of a more premium device. Bear in mind that this is not a small device, although physically it is not a lot larger than most phones with a 5.5” screen due to the aspect ratio.
Sensors: Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Design & General Usability
As mentioned earlier, the G6 Plus is mostly glass. This makes the device feel very nice in the hand, but also makes it quite slippery. If this becomes an issue, you can of course use a case but in some ways that defeats the purpose.
The headphone jack is located on the bottom of the phone, which I think is probably the most convenient location for general use, and particularly when mounting the phone in the car and plugging an aux cable in.
The USB-C slot is also located on the bottom of the phone. I have never had a USB-C device before, and was wondering what all the hype was about. Perhaps there is more to it, but I find the fact that you can’t put the charger in wrong to be a pretty strong selling point.
The top of the device has a secondary microphone, which I assume is for noise cancelling as well as the slot for the Micro SD, and dual sim card slots. This requires a paper clip, or the provided pin thing to pop it out.
The bottom of the phone has the standard microphone and the fingerprint sensor, which is much smaller than the G5S Plus. This doesn’t seem to detract from functionality and the sensor is both fast and accurate. I am not the biggest fan of fingerprint sensors on the front and find that having it on the back is much more convenient most of the time. Where it is more useful however, is when you have the phone down on a flat surface and want to unlock it without picking it up e.g. when you are cooking and want to quickly check the recipe again.
The camera bump sticks out a fair ways on the back of the device, which seems like a recipe for additional scratches. So far it has been ok, but definitely attracts dust around the edges of the bump
The display is larger than the average phone at 5.9”, but the screen to body ratio is quite high so the phone does not feel unwieldy. The G6 Plus has a one-handed mode that can be turned on using a gesture as well.
Compared to its predecessor the Moto G5S Plus, the G6 Plus is only 6.5mm taller. The screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio at 1080x2160 resolution so most videos will have black borders on them due to being recorded at 16:9, for example 1080p. Gorilla Glass 3 provides scratch resistance, and so far I haven’t managed to pick up any scratches so it seems to be working. On the quality front the display offers excellent sunlight legibility, and the oleophobic coating helps prevent your fingers smearing the display too badly.
The adaptive brightness works quite well and can be adjusted to quite a dim level for those who like to use their device in a pitch black room, as well as working well in direct sunlight (of which there is very little at the moment since its winter). I often read on my phone while getting my daughter to sleep in a dark room, so minimum brightness levels are a key feature for me. Fortunately the Moto G6 Plus delivers well in this regard.
The G6S Plus has a dual camera setup on the rear, much like the G5S Plus – however the quality appears to be much improved from the previous version. The primary sensor is 12MP, with a 5MP sensor used for depth finding to support the bokeh portrait mode and cut out features.
Here’s a comparison of the photo quality between the Moto G5S Plus and the Moto G6 Plus:
Moto G5S Plus
Moto G6 Plus
As you can see, the G5S Plus appears to have some issues with the overhead lights causing halos and ruining the photo. The G6 Plus appears to be able to handle the same conditions much more gracefully.
One of the stupid sounding, but useful features is the twist gesture, which will open the camera up directly, even when the screen is off.
Shutter speed is not super quick, but passable for most occasions. I haven’t managed to find different modes in the camera app for different situations, such as when you require faster shutter speed. There is a manual mode that lets you adjust white balance, ISO, shutter speed, focus and some other setting that I suspect is exposure. I really wish there were selectable modes e.g. Sports for faster shutter speeds – but if this exists I have not managed to figure out where it is.
The G6 Plus has three additional features that are provided by the additional sensor; Portrait Mode, Cutout mode and Spot colour.
Portrait mode lets you take a photo of a subject and adjust the blur in the background. This seems to work ok if you are close enough to the subject, but sometimes has strange results with blurring items in the foreground. It also tends to work more reliably when taking photos of people, as opposed to objects.
The cutout mode is much less reliable, and I haven’t managed to get it work properly. In theory it is meant to allow you to take a photo of a subject, and then replace the background behind them. In reality it doesn’t do a great job of cutting the subject out – and doesn’t work reliably either.
Spot colour is meant to let you take a photo and select the colour you want to keep, while the rest of the photo becomes grayscale. This can work ok depending on the subject – with definition between objects needing to be fairly uniform in colour for it to work effectively. I definitely have had some strange results playing around with this mode.
On the video front, the default setting is 1080p 30fps, however you can switch this to 1080p 60fps or 4K@30fps. You will need quite a fast SD Card if you want to record in 4K due to the 51Mbps bitrate, but the internal storage will also work fine for this. I have only provided one sample video 1080p@30fps as I couldn’t find anything interesting to film that wasn’t my daughter, so you’ll have to have a look on Youtube for more sample videos. The quality from what I’ve recorded is fine though, although wind noise is a bit of a killer.
Some additional video features are Slow Motion, Timelapse, Youtube Live and Face Filters. Face Filters lets you overlay some rather amusing hats, cat ears etc. This works for both video and still photos.
For the selfie fans, there is also a front facing flash and a beauty mode, which I assume smoothes out your wrinkles.
Here are some other photos to show how the camera performs across a few scenarios:
I am not an audiophile so I can’t provide a definitive opinion on the Moto G6 Plus’ audio capabilities. That said, what I have experienced has been great. Most of the time I listen to music using Phaiser BHS-750 Bluetooth headphones and the connection is stable without it dropping out and audio quality is great. I generally stream music using Google Play Music at the highest bitrate available.
The Loudspeaker uses the earpiece speaker, which does not affect maximum loudness at all. As an alarm clock the phone is very capable and effective. In calls, the quality is clear, and I assume it supports HD Voice or something because, man it sounds so much more crisp than my old Redmi Note 3 which was very muddy and muffled sounding.
The G6 Plus also includes some software enhancements through Dolby Audio, which is essentially a more flexible equalizer that lets you set different settings across Movie, Music, Game, Voice and two custom settings. It has a Volume leveler to even out sound across applications as well.
The G6 Plus is not built to be a speed demon. It has a mid-range Snapdragon 630 which uses Cortex A53 based cores, and despite having 8 of them it will not achieve the same level of performance as a flagship device. Despite this, the G6 Plus performs well at most tasks, with general responsiveness really good across the UI. Where it might fall down is intensive gaming. The Snapdragon 630 has an Adreno 508, which I believe is a 30% improvement from the Adreno 506 in the Snapdragon 625 due mostly to an increase in clock speed from 650Mhz to 850Mhz and the switch from LPDDR3 to LPDDR4.
With an Antutu score of ~89,000 the Moto G6 Plus isn’t winning any speed competitions, but that’s not really what it’s meant for. Sure it could have had a Snapdragon 636 and probably stayed at a similar price-point but for most people it won’t make an iota of difference.
With Geekbench 4 the G6 Plus is again fairly average, and doesn’t provide any performance improvement over the G5S Plus, or other devices running Snapdragon 625 despite the 200mhz clock increase. Where the G6 Plus does improve is on the GPU side, where it scores between 3600-3800.
When it comes to gaming, I’m not really sure what the kids are playing these days, and Fortnite isn’t available for Android so I couldn’t test that. I have tried PUBG Mobile, as well as some classic games like KOTOR and GTAIII. PUBG Mobile seems to run quite well on low settings, but somehow, I ended up playing with a bunch of Korean kids so all I heard was “anyong haseyo” from my team mates, some of whom tried to shoot me constantly. Thankfully team killing was not enabled. I also briefly tried Need for Speed:No Limits and performance was fine in this regard.
The G6 Plus has pretty high spec connectivity features with Bluetooth 5.0, LTE up to 600Mbps and 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi.
It supports almost all of the bands available in NZ for both UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G) so you will get coverage pretty much no matter who you are with.
I have found that on LTE with Vodafone I average a bit over 50Mbps, but have been up to 70Mbps in normal usage. With 3G (HSPA+) I get around 20Mbps down, 2Mbps up.
The GPS supports basically every type of satellite, and I have found it locks quickly, and tracks accurately enough for navigation. I haven’t tested it for fitness purposes, so can’t attest to its capabilities in that regard. Using a GPS Test application, it fixed in under 10 seconds and had an accuracy of +/- 3M to +/- 5M with 10 satellites locked.
At home I have 100Mbps Fibre with Vodafone and can just about max that out over Wi-Fi with the Moto G6 Plus with an average of 90Mbps. The Wi-Fi antenna seems to be pretty well designed, and I get good reception everywhere in my house, which is ~190 sqm and my router is a Vodafone Ultra Hub, with 802.11AC support and MIMO.
With Bluetooth, I haven’t tested data rates, but I connect my Sena Intercom on my Motorcycle, my Asus Zenwatch 3 and my Phaiser Bluetooth headphones on a regular basis. I have had zero issues. I have found that the connection on my Zenwatch is much more reliable than it was on my Redmi Note 3, which used to disconnect constantly and Google services wouldn’t even work most of the time. I have been incredibly impressed with how stable the Bluetooth stack is on this device. Kudos to Motorola/Lenovo for getting this often forgotten component so right.
The battery in the Moto G6 Plus is only 3200 mAH which doesn’t sound terribly impressive on paper, however the Snapdragon 630 seems to be even more efficient than the 625, and despite the 5.9” display the G6 Plus doesn’t drain particularly rapidly. Your battery life will be heavily affected by the features you use so YMMV. I found that turning off the “OK Google” hotword detection improved battery life significantly, but other than that I didn’t really worry too much about it. If any particular app is draining battery, Android 8.0 does warn you – something that happened every time I ran Antutu. Overall I found that after waking up at 5.45, by bedtime around 10pm I usually have over 50% battery life left.
The G6 Plus also supports Turbocharge using the charger that it came with. This increases the charge speed dramatically, and apparently will bring the total charge time to under 2hrs, with 30 minutes to go from 0% to 38% (According to GSMArena). I haven’t performed any scientific testing myself, but it definitely charges a lot more quickly than my old Redmi Note 3. It also is nice having USB-C when plugging in, and not having to worry that you have the charger the right way up.
The Moto G6 Plus comes with an almost completely stock Android 8.0 Oreo, which is pretty great, and a huge upgrade over my experience with Marshmallow (and a customized Xiaomi one at that). It does come with a few extras and at setup will attempt to get you to login to your email accounts using Microsoft Outlook. You can of course skip this, but it can be a little confusing at first. I don’t believe that you can remove Outlook either, which I guess could be considered annoying for some – but storage isn’t really a problem.
One value-add that doesn’t go awry is the Moto app, which has helpful suggestions – for example deleting similar photos to free up space or tips to conserve power, along with a whole host of useful features.
The key additional features Motorola have added are:
Moto Key lets you manage logins to websites, as well as other devices such as a PC using the fingerprint sensor. I found it works well for website logins, however the PC login functionality was a little buggy preventing me from logging in so I ended up turning it off.
Moto Actions is a set of gestures that you can turn on and off. Some of the more useful gestures are:
Moto Display includes the following:
Strangely, there is also a MotoVoice app that appears to duplicate functionality that the Google Assistant already provides but you say “Hello Moto” to activate it. It also has a similar feature to Android Auto where it can announce text messages and voice calls while you are driving. Not really sure what Motorola is trying to do here, suffice to say I don’t see this being widely used.
With a nearly full screen 18:9 display and glass all around, the G6 Plus certainly looks the part of a more premium phone. The only hint at cost saving really is the processor, which won’t affect the majority of users. It’s plenty powerful enough for most tasks, including recording 4K video. The camera is also a fairly strong point, with low light situations and shutter speed being the only weak spots. Everything else about the phone is pretty spot on and I can’t see anyone complaining.
That said, the idealist in me thinks that at $580 retail I shouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend the Moto G6 Plus, but the realist thinks that the only way to get more value for money is to buy a less polished Chinese phone such as a Xiaomi or Meizu, where you compromise on the Operating System updates, or the build quality.
There is some mainstream competition at this price point including the new Nokia 7 Plus, which can be found for $630 and has a Snapdragon 660, The Sony Xperia XA2 which has similar specs but retails for $550, and the Moto X4 which is also very similar specced but is waterproof for $630. Of these, the Nokia is probably the only real competitor, but it is $50 more. Other options include buying the cheaper version, the Moto G6 or G6 Play – where you will compromise on screen size and performance, or the older G5S Plus – which has a vastly inferior camera.
Overall, the Moto G6 Plus delivers and is a great option for anyone looking at buy a quality phone for less than $600 NZD.
Where do I get one and how much is it?
RRP: $580 NZD – available from Noel Leeming
Compared to Moto G6 Play ~$370 @PBTech and the Moto G6 $466 @PBTech